California moves to 'top-two' open primary election system
SACRAMENTO (KABC) -- In two weeks California's voters go to the polls in the June primary. This will be the state's first open, or "top-two," primary. The new format will have an impact on the legislature, state policies and programs.
President Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee for president. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee challenging him.
But when Californians vote in the June 5 primary election, they don't have to belong to a political party to pick a nominee for congressional, legislative and statewide races.
Voters still get one vote for each office, but the first- and second-place winners, regardless of party, move on to the November general election.
"This change is going to give millions of California voters more of a say in the voting process, more power to decide who the candidates and the ultimate winner will be in political districts up and down the state," said Kim Alexander, founder and president of the California Voter Foundation. "This new process really shakes things up a lot."
The idea of a "top-two primary" is to help elect more moderate people to the legislature and other non-presidential offices to end gridlock, especially in Sacramento, by electing lawmakers who are more willing to compromise.
The new system also aims to lessen the power that party leaders have over which candidate gets to be the nominee.
But opponents say the top-two primary system could result in two candidates from the same party vying for one office, leaving little chance for smaller, less-funded parties to win.
Critics also point out it doesn't work in Washington state.
"The Washington State Legislature this year, which all was elected in the top-two system, was not able to pass the budget during the regular session," said Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News. "The governor had to call a special session. They still couldn't pass the budget."
It's too early to tell whether more moderates will win office. New political districts lines drawn by a citizens commission could also help, but big money may still be too influential.
"In the end, you do need the money and the endorsements of major groups up and down the state and the groups themselves are somewhat polarized," said Prof. Bruce Cain, director of the University of California Washington Center.
election, california news, nannette miranda
- DUI driver slams car into LA home; girl dead
- SKorea ferry accident death toll at 58 8 min ago
- Pope Francis, crowd joyously celebrate Easter
- LA coach gets 130 years in child molest case
- North Hollywood hit-and-run driver sought
- Woman fatally struck on 405 Fwy near Torrance
- Driver smashes car into Fillmore dollar store 41 min ago
- Bus crash: Driver remembered as a 'hero'
- Ohio couple married 70 yrs die 15 hours apart
- Drone in Yemen kills 9 al Qaeda members
- Boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter dies at 76
- abcnews: Dashcams capture possible meteorite
- 'Capt. America' tops box office for 3rd week
- OTRC: Miley Cyrus postpones whole tour